My decadent week of cake

Various things – friends visiting to see our new chickens, the last opportunity for Pudding Club before term starts again and a new found fatalism on the weight front (yeah, topping 100kg again!) has meant I have been cooking an awful lot of cake this week. I made…

Mary Berry’s Victoria Sandwich.

All the icing sugar in the world can't hide the fact the cakes are split and burned!

Which I burnt. Things I learned: a four egg mix is a good amount for my sandwich tins. 2oz of buttercream is not really enough to fill it and it takes an awful lot of jam. I need to turn the oven down. It’s really enough to combine the mix quite loosely – I would normally cream the butter with the sugar quite vigourously before adding the eggs and flour. This recipe calls for all the ingredients to go in at once and only basic mixing. And it’s fine for it.

Coffee flavoured cupcakes

Coffee cupcakes for sister in law visit.

Things I learned: a one egg sponge mix is ample to fill all four of the dinky new cupcake moulds I got for my birthday. Two spoons of instant coffee for the buttercream and two in the cake mix is about right for my taste but a bit too strong for everyone else. I need to work on my two tone icing technique and on icing more generally.

Mary Berry’s Chocolate Roulade

Oh noes! Multiple cracks! But it still looks rouladelicious!

Things I learned: this is easier than it looks. It uses a lot of eggs (might be a good thing once the birds start laying!) No flour! I turned it into a sort of Schwarzwaldkirschroulade with half a bag of frozen cherries turned into a simple jam by boiling with sugar and bits of port and kirsh I had knocking around. I make sure the sponge was good and damp and boiled some of the left up juice to a slightly stiffer set to make a drizzling jus for presentation:

And black forest roulade served with a cherry and port jus.

Dan Lepard’s cinnamon buns

An old favourite. I don’t think I’ve ever made them without burning them a little, however – in this case, although they looked blackened they didn’t taste burnt at all.

What I learned: the recipe fits neatly in my large rectangular roasting tin – I’ve always used my round 9″ cake tin before. If you leave them to prove whilst ringing for a wedding, they will likely go over the top of the tin.

Massively over proven cinnamon buns waiting for the oven to get to temperature

But they will still taste delicious and wonderful anyway.

Brownies

This recipe is a good’un and came out with the desired highly squidgy interiors. The recipe is extremely detailed, and I might have glossed over the finer points.

I had to pop off to Dunelm to buy a new tin for making the swiss roll needed for the roulade, and whilst I was there, bought a square tin for brownies and tray bakes, which I have felt I needed for a while. This recipe fills it really well.

Even more cooking for chicken visitors!

The picture shows afternoon tea with tuna and yellow pepper sandwiches, a small plate of cucumber sandwich bites, strong black coffee, and brownies and cinnamon buns for after.

Perhaps the main thing I learned is that my mobile phone takes horrible food pictures!

Summer of smoothies

So this summer, we have been making a lot of smoothies.

I’ve resisted them for years, because I assumed they relied on using those punnetts of expensive soft fruit, often flown across the world, and out of season. But somewhere on the internet, I got given the idea that bags of frozen berries work just as well, and can go straight into the blender from the freezer.

The frozen fruit is far cheaper than the fresh Class I stuff at the front of the supermarket, and so for the last couple of months I have kept my freezer stocked with berries and the blender in almost daily use.

My supermarket has a variety of berries, and we have mostly been using frozen cherries and a blueberry/strawberry mix. The black forest bags look like they ought to be delicious, but they are chock full of seeds from raspberries and they get stuck in my teeth.

The average smoothie is made with about 80grams of frozen berries, a banana, a small spoon of oats, and enough milk to get the consistency right. There’s two of your 5 a day right there! All of the ingredients can be room temperature, so long as the berries come right out of the freezer, and it still makes a nice cold smoothie without the need for ice.

I have been using these remedially when I am conscious that my diet has been poor and that I am nowhere near getting enough fruit and veg in. In extremis, some days I’ve been making 4-fruit smoothies by adding in canned fruits – the cheapest supermarket basics in the tinned pear and pineapple ranges. Since they’re going to be bashed into pieces, it doesn’t matter what size is in the tin.